The film is directed by DJ Caruso, whose work you know from films like Disturbia and Eagle Eye and television shows like Dark Angel and Smallville....and speaking of Smallville, there's a little Superman in Caruso's most recent movie-mix.
The basic premise couldn't be more like the ubermensch himself if Jerry Seigel and Joe Schuster rose from their graves and wrote the script...but as that wasn't possible, the dynamic duo of Miles Millar and Alfred Gough, also of Smallville fame, wrote the I AM NUMBER FOUR screenplay with Buffy-alum, Marti Noxon:
An alien boy s sent to Earth upon the destruction of his home world; he is now the hope of not just Earth, but the Universe itself. Though an alien, he appears human and has special powers. He's smarter, stronger and faster than other boys his age. He even has a special box, a la Superman's "Fortress of Solitude," sent with him from his own planet--I half expected him to open it and hear Marlon Brando's voice saying, "Kal-El...." And yes, there are magical crystals from his home world, too.
Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg produced, which explained the explosive appeal of the film. Alex Pettyfer, a British actor who you may recognize from his work with Burberry, plays the title role of John Smith (aka "Superman"), and also stars in the Beauty and the Beast film adaptation, Beastly, with Vanessa Hudgens, debuting March 4, 2011. You'll recognize Dianna Aragon from Glee as well as Aussie actors Teresa Palmer and Callan McAuliffe. McAuliffe made his American debut in Rob Reiner's Flipped and Palmer has been in movies with Hollywood greats like Nicholas Cage and former-SNL funnyman, Adam Sandler. Look for Palmer as Talia al Ghul in the upcoming adaptation of Justice League of America.
Though the original novel series is a clear adaptation of Seigel and Schuster's original Superman, with cookie-cutter Campbellian trials...even magical flight, Caruso, Millar, Gough, Noxon, and cinematographer, Guillermo Navarro--whose work in the Hellboy franchise earned him props from this reviewer, along with an Oscar nod for his work in Pan's Labryinth--make what could have been an unimaginative remix of Superman for the 21st century into an entertaining film for a broad demographic.
I AM NUMBER FOUR gets a strong 7/10 on the Housel-scale.
Bring on the decade of the superhero!